Monday, September 16, 2013

Disney World's Magic Kingdom: Wait Less and Ride More

Ah, the Magic Kingdom.  Is there anything better then walking down Main Street U.S.A., Cinderella's Castle in the distance?

I think not.

Over the years, I've received quite a few questions via my blog email about the Magic Kingdom.  Families traveling to Disney World wonder many things, from whether or not they can bring food in to whether or not their four year old needs a stroller.

Yes and yes.

There is plenty to do inside the Magic Kingdom, and make sure you stop and enjoy the many shops, shows and characters.  If you are looking for advice on navigating the park, and waiting as little as possible, here are my "best tips" for the Magic Kingdom.

1.  I start every Disney World tip list with ARRIVE WHEN THE PARK OPENS.  This is a must if you want to accomplish many rides with fewer wait times.

2.  When the park opens, if you have small children, walk straight down Main Street U.S.A., through the castle to Fantasyland.  This area of the park will be the most congested throughout the day, and arriving when the park opens will save you many headaches.

The headaches being crying toddlers waiting 45 minutes (or more) to ride Winnie the Pooh, and waiting 60+ minutes to ride Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid.

My advice is to start in the back of the park (Fantasyland) and ride everything possible in that first hour, when wait times are at a minimum.

3.  When wait times pick up in Fantasyland, it's time to either Fast Pass, move on or both.  Fast Passes should be set before you arrive (preferably months in advance).

This shouldn't happen until about an hour and a half after park opens, depending on how busy the parks are.  When we arrive at park opening, we ride 3-4 rides without needing a Fast Pass. Never set a Fast Pass before 11 am. Lines are longest in the afternoons and evenings, save them for when you'll need them most.

4.  After Fantasyland, work your way around the park, going to Frontierland and Adventureland next.  On your way stop and ride the Haunted Mansion.  Next up will be rides such as Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain.  If you have small children that won't be riding Thunder Mountain/Splash Mountain, send the waiting parent to get parent swaps for your group. A parent swap is a Fast Pass ticket for the waiting parent.

Parent 1 waits in the regular line with older child.  Parent 2 has to wait with the kids not tall enough to ride. When parent 1 and older child return, parent 2 can take same older child (or whoever they want) back on the ride through the Fast Pass line. Best part of this system is they give waiting parent a buddy so they don't have to ride alone, and you may have a child who gets to ride the fun rides twice.

5.  When you finish up in Adventureland, stop and eat and enjoy some if the midday shows and/or parades in the Magic Kingdom.  Between 11am and 1pm there is always a parade or show in front of the castle.  While enjoying these shows, use the bathrooms and regroup.

If you need a ride without a line that kills some time,  the "PeopleMover" outside Buzz Lightyear is a great relaxing ride for parents and children of all ages.

After you've finished up in all the "lands," revisit favorite rides or wait for the big 3pm parade.  Don't forget to stop at my favorite shop, the Confectionery, on your way out!

Have any other great Magic Kingdom tips for parents?  Share below!


  1. My one tip (since I didn't follow it MYSELF this time...): If there's something on your "must do" list and it's deemed to be an "anytime" experience, schedule it anyhow. My Mr. MOTH is our planner (I'm the organizer) so I gave him my list of things I wanted to do on this trip, nearly all of which could be done any time without much wait...and we didn't do a single one! Mostly, it's not his fault. Mostly. Almost.

    1. Oh no!!!!!! Great tip though . It's SOOOOO true. Must be scheduled or it falls by the wayside.... :( Hey, you'll have to go back! haha!


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